cannabis industry social image community involvement

5 Steps to Building Social Impact + Community Connections

cannabis industry social image community involvement

Social responsibility programs are becoming common practice nowadays among companies of all shapes and sizes. It’s more and more expected that businesses should promote charities or humanitarian goals along with their own business objectives. While the cannabis industry has a long history of supporting education about the medical uses of cannabis as well as anti-prohibition measures, social responsibility programs go far beyond that.

In some cases, companies and businesses are not only required to have a social responsibility program but they're also required to volunteer with nonprofits in order to stay compliant with state and local regulations.

What isn’t required?

Unfortunately all too often, social responsibility programs can be initiated without the actual input of local communities. This causes businesses to miss out on opportunities to engage with neighbors, establish trust, and make a long-lasting difference in the communities they serve.


We know that running a business, particularly a start-up, is a lot to handle. Add to that the unique challenges we face working in the cannabis industry--high taxes, business discrimination, and strict regulations--and it may seem that social impact is something that can wait for the future. However, establishing trust with customers and community is vital to business sustainability. If you treat your neighbors like they are incidental to your success, they will treat you with the same consideration.

Case in point, one of the oldest dispensaries in the US, Berkeley Patients Group (BPG) was targeted by the federal government in 2012 and faced the very real possibility of shutting down. BPG always had a community focus, whether it was providing patient-to-patient care, free medication and services to patients in need, or supporting local nonprofits. The community rallied to support them as they dealt with this challenge and they were able to move locations and stay open. Without this backing from the community, BPG may have not been able to survive the legal threat. Last year they celebrated their 20th anniversary and launched a “1MM for Good” initiative, in which they have pledged to donate $1 million over the next decade to nonprofits and charities.

How to start building those community connections? While it may seem daunting, really it starts small and grows from there.

1. Engage with your neighbors.

Work and connect with people on the individual level. If it’s hard to interact with neighbors casually, consider attending a neighborhood association or community district meetings. Listen to the concerns that are being discussed and how the community wants to address them. Is your business in a position to help? Even writing a letter in support of a new stop sign at a nearby intersection can open a conversation about how to be a good partner in the community.

2. Build trust.

Consider how existing social responsibility projects may impact your community. Giving away donations in a primarily Muslim neighborhood during Ramadan would seem pretty clueless and uninformed.

3. Do your research.

Much like the point above, knowing the history behind certain organizations can help or hurt your cause. For example, collecting donations in a predominately LGBTQ+ neighborhood for the Salvation Army (which has had a long history of homophobic discrimination) is not going to help you establish trusting relationships with your neighbors.

4. Ask for help.

Whenever possible, ask the local community which organizations they support or which issues concern them the most. Not only will they appreciate the questions, using their suggestions will bond them closer to your business.

kindColorado, big sister to Cannabis Doing Good, specializing in community engagement and CSR, can help too.

5. Remember the big picture.

While it’s exciting to be a part of an emerging industry, we have the burden of representation. Not only do we represent our own businesses, to some people, we may represent cannabis companies as a whole. We owe it to each other to demonstrate to our communities that we are thoughtful, responsible, and strategic.

Businesses of all sizes are reckoning with the impact that they have on the planet, our policies, and our people.

By going beyond a basic social responsibility program and really engaging with your community, your business can be a force of good that extends beyond just your valued customers out into the community and into the world. And that means that your community will be there for you beyond the basics too.

mh biz talk cannabis doing good las vegas

CDG: The Why and The How

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Doing Good: The Definition

There isn’t a platform for cannabis companies doing good to tell their story or be recognized for the impact their making. Or for companies who aspire to do good, to see examples of what it could look like. Our version of good aims to capture all the ways the cannabis sector is driving positive political, social and economic impact. Provide 1 million meals to your local community? Educate on the real risks and benefits of medical cannabis? You champion workers rights? You hire equitably? All Cannabis Doing Good. We haven’t even scratched the surface of the good this industry is creating. BUT, we need your help.

Why It Matters: The Opportunity

In just a short time, CDG has amassed an incredible amount of social capital. This is in large part due to the network and authenticity of its founders, kindColorado and PufCreativ. Two agencies, dedicated to building community relationships, pioneering social responsibility and creating robust storytelling throughout the digital world. How do we use our social capital? We leverage our relationships with city leaders, business owners, license holders, patients, nonprofit executives and community advocates to create a network of engaged thought-leaders, with the goal of sharing meaningful stories about the cannabis industry and creating neutral access for those interested in the cannabis space.

Partnering with CDG gives you immediate access to our network, 30 years in the making, and to the trust we’ve built within every corner of our community. Relationship, trust and tangible impact are the currency of the cannabis sector. Partner with us and multiply your goodwill among consumers and the community.

Cannabis Doing Good: The Mission

Cannabis doing good is a platform to create opportunities for cannabis and communities to collaborate, to inspire new ways of people, planet and business engagement, and to showcase companies doing good. With you, we can do do this several ways -

  • • Online digital campaign aimed at capturing individuals and businesses’ stories of doing good. We will be dismantling Drug War propaganda, one story, one video, at a time. Have a good story to tell - share with it us! (link to instructions).
  • • Cannabis Doing Good Socials that bring communities and cannabis together. Every CDG Social our network and our list, expands, our definition of good evolves and the charity we’ve partnered with gets more support for the good they do. You can sponsor a social or just attend and enjoy the good time. Our next one is coming up in February - sign-up for our email list and get the exclusive invite! (link to website)
  • • Cannabis Doing Good Awards. There isn’t a platform for companies doing good to tell their story or be recognized for the impact their making. Or for companies who aspire to do good, to see examples of what it could look like. So, we’ve created the Cannabis Doing Good Awards to be launched this upcoming fall at a large-scale cannabis industry charity Gala (co-hosted by us, of course). Stay tuned for details.
  • • “Powered by” Cannabis Doing Good events and programs. These are opportunities for brands, initiatives, films or agencies to access our network and leverage our social capital for the benefit of growing support and earning trust for their own mission, cause or project. You get access to our community and industry lists, a platform using your event to support a local charity, and digital promotion on our all our socials. Want your next event to be “powered by CDG”? Email us and let’s get the conversation going.